When Hayabusa's sample return capsule was first opened and found to be very clean-looking inside, I doubted that there could be enough material for laboratory analysis. JAXA announced later that they scraped about 1500 dust grains from the inside with a teflon spatula, and these likely came from Itokawa.
I'd been despairing of finding a good source for a writeup of the presentations in the Hayabusa session at last week's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, but am happy to report that I've finally found an excellent one.
Just in time for today's Deep Impact press briefing, which you can watch on NASA TV in a few minutes: I've updated my montage of all the asteroids and comets that have been visited and photographed to include Hartley 2.
Since I posted an update Monday about JAXA confirming extraterrestrial samples in the Hayabusa sample return capsule, JAXA has posted an English-language version of their press release, which contains a bit more information.
It's official: in a press release today, JAXA announced that some 1,500 dust grains scraped from the interior of Hayabusa's clean-looking sample return capsule are not of terrestrial origin so must be from Itokawa.
It really looks like Hayabusa is going to make it home. Hayabusa's sample return capsule will be returning to Earth on June 13, 2010, landing in the Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia at about 14:00 UTC.
JAXA has posted a note on their website on the status of Hayabusa, which apparently reached aphelion in late May. Hayabusa is Japan's amazing ion-powered mission to asteroid Itokawa, which touched down on Itokawa to grab a sample in mid-November 2005, but suffered an injury that has left in doubt its ability to return the sample capsule to Earth.
JAXA has released a 30-minute video of the Hayabusa mission, "Return of the Falcon," combining computer animation with actual footage of the construction and launch as well as images from the spacecraft of Itokawa.